This course helps third class cadets develop their capacities to think clearly and critically. It acquaints cadets with various view points on major philosophic issues, assists them in acquiring a facility with the language, arguments, and methods of moral discourse, and gives special attention to the subject of war and morality.
PY201 supports cadet achievement of the following United States Military Academy Intellectual Domain goals:
- Moral Awareness: Graduates recognize moral issues and apply ethical considerations in decision-making.
- Creativity: Graduates think and act creatively.
- Communication: Graduates listen, read, speak and write effectively.
Descriptions of these and other Intellectual Domain goals can be found in Educating Future Army Officers for a Changing World .
Course Key Terms:
- Critical Thinking: world view, claims, arguments, validity, soundness, deductive vs. inductive arguments, and fallacies.
- Ethical Theory: objectivism, relativism, consequentialism, egoism, utilitarianism, principle of utility, deontological ethics, Kant’s categorical imperative, virtue ethics, and the concept of the mean.
- Just War Theory: jus ad bellum (just war criteria, interventions, preemptive/anticipatory attacks, preventive war, “minimally just” states, and rights of “minimally just” states), jus in bello (discrimination, noncombatant immunity, doctrine of double effect, moral equality of combatants, and proportionality), jus post bellum, realism, pacifism, terrorism, supreme emergency, and technology and Just War Theory.
Course Objectives (Cadets who complete PY201 will be able to...)
- Describe relevant philosophical concepts.
Standard: At a minimum, cadets accurately describe course key terms related to ethical theory, just war theory, and critical thinking.
- Understand the meaning of "world view."
Standard: Cadets know what a world view is, and they understand the basic features of their own world view and how it affects their judgment, decisions, and thinking.
- Identify moral issues and examine the implications of these issues.
Standard: Cadets are able to distinguish between moral issues and issues related to legal and practical concerns and they understand the implications of particular ethical theories.
- Identify issues related to the moral dimensions of war and examine their implications.
Standard: Cadets are able to distinguish between moral issues in war and issues related to legal and practical concerns, and they understand the implications of particular approaches to moral issues in war.
- Think critically in identifying, analyzing, and evaluating claims and arguments when listening, reading, and speaking.
Standard: Cadets successfully employ critical thinking concepts when they identify, analyze, and evaluate claims and arguments.
- Create written arguments that are logically rigorous and conceptually precise through the writing process.
Standard: Cadets employ an intentional and methodical writing process to produce logically rigorous and conceptually precise arguments. Their written products adhere to critical thinking conventions presented during the course and employ concepts that are clearly and thoroughly presented.
Elements of a good philosophical essay:
Student applies relevant theories competently.
Student develops a clear and cogent argument.
Student fairly treats opposing views.
Student employs appropriate evidence.
Student's use of language is effective, evincing a clear argumentative style.
Student keeps to standards of college-level composition and is attentive to technical language as expected in the course.
LTC John Bauer
Dr. Melissa Bergeron
MAJ Sean Dansberger
MAJ Ian Fishback
Dr. Stephen Finn
MAJ Harry Jones
LTC Pete Kilner
LTC Chris Mayer
Dr. Graham Parsons
LTC Michael Saxon
CPT Kevin Schieman
Dr. Richard Schoonhoven
Dr. Robert Tully
MAJ Alex Weis